Propped: It’s summer, which means a breezier season of group shows in many venues, public and private (though not so much the big institutions, with Canada 150 in the air). Oakville throws in with Propped, a 17-artist ensemble affair that toggles back and forth from the absurd to the profound with aplomb. Built around the notion of objects — from the agnostic to the loaded, the generic to the specific — shifting meaning depending on their use (as in, a prop), the show explores how context and deployment can fill otherwise empty-seeming vessels with meaning.
It allows for breadth, and perhaps a little too much: Bridget Moser, Ontario’s Sobey Award finalist, is among the group, with her theatre-of-the-absurd performance, positioned precariously on cheap folding chairs, or cornered by a malevolent-seeming IKEA table; Public Studio, the duo of Elle Flanders and Tamara Sawatzky, in collaboration with Lili Huston-Herterich, show an image of a surgical scissors, unnervingly corroded, being fingered by a rubber-gloved hand; Duane Linklater offers a weathered pair of beaded moccasins tucked behind a cut-off sheaf of drywall. But what else are summer shows for?
Joseph Hartman: The Artist’s Studio: Hartman, a longtime fixture on the Toronto art scene, began a four-year project in 2013 to photograph the studios of a broad array of artists from coast to coast, with a mind to revealing the intimate, personal spaces where artists’ ideas become form. Mostly unoccupied (though in later images, artists creep in), they’re nonetheless portraits of a kind, and perhaps more revealing of the personalities of the people who occupy them than a standard portrait could ever capture.